Three poems by Henry Bladon

Bladon 2

 

the demon on my back

the demon on my back
calls it a hug.

he says:
you don’t know me yet,
but you will.

we will be friends,
you and me.

 

(Image is Untitled, by Dutch artist, Marcel Herms.
marcelherms.nl)

Homeboy - Bladon

 

Serotonin

Flood in, flood in, create the happy tide.
You expect me to believe.
But listen to this:
Over two hundred neurotransmitters
carrying messages, feelings and memories
yet nothing to measure them by.

Now try and tell me you know why
when all you have is theory

 

The ‘serotonin theory’ suggests that depression is caused by a lack of the neurochemical substance serotonin. Although widely quoted as fact, it remains a hypothesis, and one for which there is no direct evidence.

(Image is Homeboy, by Dutch artist, Marcel Herms. marcelherms.nl)

 

Psychobabble and Snake Oil (An ABBA Poem)

The medics think this is magical stuff
the secret of curing the brain
try one, try another and try again
because sometimes one’s not enough.

Psychotherapists talk and promise much
but don’t know which way to take
their words are deep but their promises fake
their ideas just straws they clutch.

..

Henry Bladon is based in Somerset in the UK. He is a writer of short fiction and poetry and teaches creative writing for therapeutic purposes. He has degrees in psychology and mental health policy, and a PhD in literature and creative writing. He frequently writes commentary about mental health issues and his literary work can be seen in O:JA&L, Tuck Magazine, Mercurial Stories, The Ekphrastic Review, and Spillwords Press, among other places.

Nine poems by Ndue Ukaj

Utopia

Everything is different, in the horizon the Sun is crumbled
The crumbles remained on the earth’s heart like triumphant arrows.

We can’t recognize the colors through the wind caressing the memory
We do not read poetry in the universe of foolishness
Where relations between darkness and light
Appear just like relations between the wall and thought.

Behind is played the surprising game, just like before
Birds are falling in the ground, just like in times when hell was written,
Oh God, everything has changed,
At a time when a small fence is darkening our big eyes.

The moon finds a path through mummy hands remaining like arrows towards the sky
And the sun dissolving just like a candle through tired eyes
Who can’t see anything in the blue sky, except a small cloud
A cloud darkening everything

Therefore vision is coiled in space
Just like the wind creating its avalanche
Then many faces appear.
At a night, when everything is different,
Containing inside the borders within your head
When you feet walk through illusions
And squeeze their bad dreams
For the time that isn’t
For the time that wasn’t
For the time that will not come
For the time that goes with the wind.
Utopia struggling against reality
Her dreams hiding at the corner of secrets
Are swallowed

 

Godo Is Coming

Stop crying continuously, Godo is coming
The storm has stopped, the road from Ireland is open
He has softened his turbulent vision and his sadness of Achilles
Even the pain in his chest has healed.
He is coming through the Tree of Life.
Where you have created the nest of welcome
With a swamp of wishes noisily tied.
Godo is coming with the music of sea full of silence.
Your welcome has given him courage,
He is coming with the sack full of enigmas,
Nearby the rotten Tree
Where you wait to enter your shaking hands
That were bitten by the irony of endless waiting.
And the words that were changing their shape every morning.
Your bulb does not trust time, neither for the waiting and Godo’s arrival.
With the branches of tree designs the crown of victory. What a great joy.
With reduced hopes until the lost confidence, dissolves the vision
And is crossing the furious river without being recognized.
Suddenly comes back.
Sitting nearby a tree with your shining items
Where the white lights swallow your emotion ate vision.
Where you are saving the nostalgia of reception. The heart’s step.
Through the tired fingers are counting the theatre of absurdities
With naked actors nearby which
The spectators are spread through the meridians of death.
While waiting for Godo.
And the fear from the sneak on the rotten Tree,
Which is whipping continuously.
Therefore Godo is coming; your reception has made him courageous.
Near the tree of life
With the team of actors to build the theatre of salvation for you.
And the time of reception to last until he comes.

 

The Emigrant

He has only questions, his answers so very timid
In dirty pockets with concreted nostalgia.
He has only memories that surround his neck
Like the millstone they shake him one step forward and a few backward,
While caressing in torrential waterfall,
And kidnapping the time which he never sees.
The time that he only dreams in endless nights.
He is not one of those below the sky full of storms,
Where he walks, where he eats, where he makes love and seating.
The fatherland of birds is the sky
Of the fish is the sea
Of the emigrant is sorrow
Which is multiplied like clouds in the turbulent sky.
On the unknown roads, nostalgia shifts
While searching for one amid endless zeroes.
Odyssey’s testament is burning in his hand,
And coal threaten fire; like tropical rays
Toward the missed Ithaca he directs his eyes
And he is exhausted day and night.
He migrates on the roads of sadness
And is covered with the quilt of Promised Land,
And every night dreams the same dream. The return to number one.
While the desert oasis swallows his aspirations, and memories.
Causing deep desperation to the Emigrant.
With the sack of sorrow travels through the roads of hope
Awaiting decisions to become as number one, in the endless zeroes
Every day waits for him the unknown in the forest of desires
Where it is relaxing, the soft vision and the deep meditation.
Like a freezing bird is searching the nest of hope.
And is covered with the quilt of Promised Land.

 

Laura’s Sunday

In her city there is a ruined cathedral
in the midst of ruins
its choir is missing
and there is an “Ave Maria” song.
On the road edges, stones relieve pain
only the choir traces are together with dry
flower bouquets
There are many dogs, and trash.

There is a large piano without its proper place.
In her city there is a ruined cathedral
longing for bells’ sounds to awaken her
she wears a beautiful dress, whispers Ave Maria
in solitude.

She has a sweet voice, every Sunday she goes
into the ruins, talks with stones, with flowers
that do not blossom, she goes easy through ruins
and wipes her happy eyes without trying the voice in a choir.

It is Sunday and her delighted eye is resting.
She sings Ave Maria in solitude.
With an eraser of love she erases the invoice
which time has left behind
while gathering her hands over her pretty breasts,
in silence she opens up a new page and writes a senseless verse.

It is Sunday
she is awakened while dreaming a love temple
and song sounds.
Ave Maria is alive!
and waits for nature to become prettier,
the same as a flower, prettier with all its beauty,
waits to join the choir of life.
She walks over the ruins of the cathedral and lights a candle.
Her pretty knees touch the solid stone.

 

When Biblical peace is ruined

There is impossible sometimes to understand the bridge between night and day
Neither between good and bad
Neither between the right and wrong
Sometimes happens that the streets are confused
And it’s the great evolution colors are invisible
This happens because lights are extinguished in the horizon.

All of a Sudden, just like a theater screen is opened a drape
The stage is empty, dry, cold, dark…
Just as a secret life full of mysteries,
And a sad person confessing himself
Without an end neither a beginning

Engulfed in the context of routine
Without freedom, neither with slavery
It happens at time that human has no horizon
And everything is collapsed
Just as a tsunami that takes upfront everything.

It happens sometimes, human has neither height nor depth
It happens to remember that it was nothing, was no where
Was no one…
In a world that is submerged in its eyes without a horizon.
Says: everything existed as a frightening scream

But happens sometimes, humans want to sit on the ground
below the tree of wisdom.
To see how biblical peace was ruined, when Eden was burned.

 

Modern Odyssey

Through dreams makes love with Penelope,
The road to Ithaca is longer than its distance
Between the dream and reality…where the tired vision
Explodes in search of Ithaca
And returned to the word in the traditional nest.
At the swamp full of memories
Where their roses are falling apart
And take the color of Autumn.  Tragically
I stepped over them, just as in lost grounds.

Without a brake opens its minimized eyes
Its tired eyes, faded from the endless search.
In trouble he is descending the stairs of memory
And opens the pages of nostalgia.  Full of passion.

In the roads of the world is crises-crossed his confused search.
While with nostalgia is searching a small place to take a break
Nervous from the tempted cruiser of life
In the waves of memory dissolved just as the Sun dew.

Odyssey died in antiquity.
In the lap of Penelope is relaxing
With the mountain of memories that are fading,
Every time that Troy is burned.
And Penelope in the window is drawing the reception.
Welcome as large as longevity
And the letters of this poetry
Extending their voice up in the sky.

 

A boat on a waive

It’s Saturday and a cold march
the roads are shining from frost, the city is quiet
Sounds are frightening, like mountains scream from lightening.
Cold flowers have the color of a frozen sound,
Nothing is shining, neither aroma, neither sound, neither a word.

We are going to the sea,
Where there is a sole boat and a masked captain

He leaves behind quietness and departs towards for the coast
To throw himself in the mysteries of turbulent waives.

You are following with imagination its path
When she moves through the stormy waives.

A thunder is heart….

Asking surprised, why did it leave the quietness of the coast?

Looking confused with the eyes covering the color of ice
And reminds the worst tail.
The boat becomes smaller, the waives are growing
And the sky is furious.

It Saturday, cold march
Flowers are freezing just like your memory
Which leaves behind quietness and thrown in the waives of life,
There is an abyss amidst desires and reality
Between you and breathless reality, life, time…
On the earth full of thirst.


Noah’s Ark

Noah’s Ark was not emptied
even when the rainbow
scintillated over the sea
and the winds stopped
and the sea slept.
She was not emptied,
even when the white dove
flew before her and,
from the narrow doors
appeared the faces of the
passionate, spurred to feel
all the bright colors
straight away.

Noah’s ark fights on,
still drunk with the storm,
Fights the rain of life falling
Nonstop with evil men
who have ruined the soil…

Since the people, drunk, overwhelmed
with the desire to ransack the colors
of the rainbow’s arch, trust me,
peace has not overspread us
Though a dove appeared
in the blue sky
desire overwhelmed us –
to become drunk with
warm lips, to die there
and preserve eternally
that instant of drunkenness

Night fell; the rainbow disappeared
in an orbit of darkness, just like
some thing unknown beyond a great hill.
And darkness enshrouded our eyes,
the same as Eve’s darkness – her
overwhelming desire for the apple
in the tree of wisdom,
Oh God, wouldn’t you think
after that battle between
the rainbow’s arch and the storm
we might have lost our taste
for the forbidden fruit?

 

In a train station

Crowds of people
Run towards many directions
Some of them have a luggage
Some embody confusion in their eyes
Some waiting for the train
And a few returning to Ithaca like Odysseus

Everyone is found to be in one place
Where they depart to different directions.
However they all have the same purpose
The lives’ walk
O God, the unknown lives’ walk.

You are cleaning the front head and with a sweet voice, asking
Who is the walk?
Odysseus when returning to Ithaca,
Understood that Ithaca was far away from his dreams
Everything had changed, except his memories.
Ithaca did not remember his heroism
She was not Ithaca of Odysseus’ dreams.

.. 

Ndue Ukaj’s poetry was translated from Albanian to English by Peter Tase

 ..

Ndue Ukaj (1977) is Albanian writer, publicist and literary critic.

Ukaj is included in several anthologies of poetry, in Albanian, and other languages. He has published five books, including “Godo is not coming”, which won the national award for best book of poetry published in 2010 in Kosovo. He has also won the award for best poems in the International Poetry Festival in Macedonia. His poems and texts are translated into English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Finnish, Swedish, Turkish and Chinese. 

Ukaj is member of Swedish PEN.

Four poems by Jamie Dedes

the century of possible peace

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,after Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the century of world wars and
into the century of “hot spots” and “conflicts,”
those isolated regions of hostility and battle, of
choreographed shows of military cliché and the
violent disaffected eruptions of the marginalized

Every day is an homage to some insanity
Media reports are conveyed with facile intensity
by hyperkinetic journalists – they deliver easy
and ominous conclusions based on seemingly
recondite facts, quickly moving to celebrity
gossip and other insipid topics . . .

I have lived in two centuries of wars
I know what it is to be exhausted by the
vain posturing of the ruling class and
the tired protestations of tribal unity and
supremacy based on accidents of birth

I know what it is to imagine peace across
the circumference of one small blue ball
in a Universe of inestimable size and breadth
I know that darkness can descend with the
speed of light, that love is more than an
anchor, that hope keeps our dreams alive

I have lived into the century where the world is
grown small, where the peacemakers are tireless
and perhaps enough hearts have grown large …
sometimes I think I am living in the century
where peace is as possible as war

 

The Razor’s Edge

Eye-candy, a feast of crocus, bursting
Through the snow-laden ground
Drunk on the promise of spring
The devil behind, that shadow side
Clouds shape shifting, take on
The broad outlines of a memoir

Angels dance on the razor’s edge
Forget that pin stupidity, reductio
ad absurdum, politicians and scholars
Debating, while greed and warring go on
Starving the children, curse the insanity
Dialectic, acquisition, murdering hoards

Clouds, shape shifting, take on
The contours of shame, crocus buries
Itself and the promise of spring
The broad outlines of memoir dissolve
The slashed moon drools ichor

How long can the innocent bear life
On the razor’s edge, coiling the fire
Of their despair around our hearts
Drawn to the verge on the reflux of
Rudimentary souls, vertigo, nausea
Nostalgia for what will never be known

 

At the Dead of Noon

If you weren’t there
you can hardly imagine the beauty,
the exquisite peace of those hot summers
Sun as bright as a child’s heart
Trees thickly leaved and old as God
Heat rising off the nubby concrete
in mighty rainbow waves and life
moving in time to the music of paradise
Or, so it seemed to preschoolers at play
At the dead of noon
a stillness
Even the child sensed it
that transcendent moment,
nature in quiet meditation
no breeze
no sighs
no butterflies winging
children stopped playing
grown-ups stopped working
the Hudson Bay stilled its roiling
when
suddenly
the beloved city choked on the swell of an air-raid siren ….
…. testing
just testing
just blowing a chill wind into
languid days of childhood dreaming
toddlers crying for toddler reasons
well-trained grade-school children
diving under oak desks for the required
. . . duck
and cover
As if that would save us from extinction.

 

Some Mothers Hearts Have Stopped

Some mothers’ children stare unseeing
No sweet, wet baby kisses from blistered lips,
. . . . songs unsung
No wedding portraits to dust and treasure
No graduations or trips to the sea
. . . . just their bodies to bury
…………crushed
…………beaten
…………stilled
by the engine of nihilism
Limbs cracked and broken, bellies torn
Faces purpled, hearts stopped
Hearts stopped …
. . . . hearts stopped
Some mothers’ hearts have stopped

,,

Jamie Dedes: A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist, her poetry has been featured widely. She runs The Poet by Day (jamiededes.com), an info hub focusing on initiatives for peace, sustainability and social justice as well as she-poets, minority poets, and poets just finding their voices in maturity. She is also the editor of The BeZine (thebezine.com), a publication of The Bardo Group/Beguines, a virtual arts collective she founded. 

The Thunder Beat Is Shaking The Ground, by Mendes Biondo

don’t you cry
great spirit
great mother
‘cause wise men said you’ve
never cried for fools’ jokes
your rain is a tantrum on  their head
your wind is a slap on their faces

let the great drum spread
the message of peace
wind whispered you on a dark night
when moon was hidden by clouds
you saw torches and
sticks and
burning crosses
they were coming with angry faces
they were coming with white hands
……………your blood was
………….. brighter than the moon
……………hotter than the sun
……………that night
……………on their white hands

let the drum tell to distant villages
that your hand is open and your fingers
strong woody birch branches
are not broken yet

the cry of the eagle
is shaking the sky
the great turtle smiled
when your bare dancing feet
caressed her carapace

let the trickster laugh
he was dumb since he came on earth
for the first time
he is laughing in front of the sun
burning his eyes

shut the mouth of his children
when they call your women squaw
with the beat of your thunder drum
………….. those baby fools do not even know
……………what it means squaw

your women have wombs made of
fertile red earth
your women have
rivers and prairies in their eyes
……………and you know it
……………you great mother
……………you great spirit
let the drum scream
even the thunder will shut up
let your feet stomp
the eye of the eagle
saw your power

and wolves
bears
salmon
crows too

silently bowed their heads
with respect and devotion

Hot Nights of Alabama, by Mendes Biondo

hey woman
walking down alabama streets
there’s a war down there
but you already know it
wear your helmet sister
we need your fists
we need your voice
your burning eyes
you tiger of the forest

hey woman
the sun is burning over alabama
our skin shining
our heart like a vietnamese town
after a raid

night will come woman
and you’ll be under the watchtower
with torches and strong fists

call your sisters
near and far
call your brothers
they will come
call your children
their spirits
the mother earth
our big momma
call them all
with no fears

it’s war woman
and alabama night will shine
as your bright tiger eyes

..

Mendes Biondo is an Italian poet. His works are widely published on magazines and anthologies from all over the world. He is one of the editors of The Ramingo’s Porch and PpigpenN. “Spaghetti & Meatballs – Poems for Hot Organs” is his first book.

The Bogger is Mimed, by Kushal Poddar

If you imagine a tale
chronicled well
the protagonist may come alive,
God, omnipotent, and
a few thousands years later
people may kill in his name.
So you write?
..
The names written on the walls,
comrade, fade with rains.
Is it about your reign
that fire crackles,
lit with the waste of the land,
mind, shape and size of our hearts?
..
Imagine, your temples throbbing
with the summer sun, the trident
of rays seeking the resting roofs,
doves and pigeons all vaporised
to reform when the breeze cools the blaze.
..
I read your myths written
in the papers, rocks, scissors,
on those half torn pamphlets,
burnt slogans, interviews, debates.
I forget what I read, all but the gist,
and then that too- pardon me-
what was the lesson?

 Edited the online magazine ‘Words Surfacing’.
Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press, Ohio), “A Place For Your Ghost Animals” (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), “Understanding The Neighborhood” (BRP, Australia), “Scratches Within” (Barbara Maat, Florida), “Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems”  (BRP, Australia) and “Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems” (Hawakal Publishers, India)

·         Author Facebook-https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/

·         Twitter-https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

Amnesia by Ananya S Guha

You have cast your vote
now everything is sealed
hermetically, and when
the ballot boxes open
you know that winning or losing
either way is defiance of politics
and when the farmer protests
there is whimper that masses are
angry.
Where goes the hungry?
Either way winning or losing
is only an arcane way of saying
what will happen will happen.
Then, we will be amnesiac.

Together, by Brooke Gander

they say that love bares all things
but how do we go on
when love is what we cannot bare
when smiles mask the pain
and lies permeate the air
hearts breaking again
we hold tight
gripping one another for dear life
dragging each other down
into the depths
lower still
until here we sit
together and utterly alone
we hit rock bottom
drowning
together

White Girl, by Noelle Sterne

I see you everywhere,
hear you, watch you,
riveted.

Walk? You own the street,
buttocks bumping, important rhythm,
laughing from the gut with your girlfriends.

Talk? You punch the air:
Come awwwn, girl! Mama gonna getchew!
String out words like song,
flaunt school English,
slur stretch drop letters, spurn syllables,
always with that bend of knowing.

 Songs? You know all the words—
singles, groups, rappers, crooners, hooters, shouters, praisers,
downloads crammed in devices and heads.
You mouth them everywhere,
dance steps careless, sure,
sidewalks, birthdays, gas and grocery lines.

Where you learn?
All my lessons never loosened my legs,
all the teaching never let me go.
But you—
size shape age clothes matty hair don’t matter.
You own the floor—
arms pumping, snaking, rippling, curling,
hands ruling, shaping the air,
feet in untaught Jackson synch,
whirls twirls taps twists turns,
eyes rolling, mouth moving, little grunts,
unmatched bend of importance.

Troubles? Your proud trumpeted history isn’t the only one.
Ha, you say. What troubles, poor little middle class white girl?
Okay, bloods. Poison of parents’ overexpectations,
best at everything, or no love.
Tyranny of never-let-up lessons
for relatives, neighbors, anyone who’ll listen:
piano-ballet-horseback-skating-cello-ballroom-baking-bowling.
No time for friends or games,
no time to dream or doodle.
And too much flesh in a thin girls’ world,
too many books in a dumb boys’ world,
yet always nursing aloneness, watching your guffawing joy.

Watching, can you look at me, just a little?
Can a white girl call you sistah?
Can a white girl call you friend?

..

Author, editor, writing coach, workshop leader, and academic mentor (Ph.D., Columbia University), I have published over 600 articles, stories, and poems in writing, literary, spiritual, and academic print and online venues. Based on my academic coaching and editing practice, my handbook for graduate students helps them overcome largely ignored nonacademic difficulties: Challenge in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). In my spiritual self-help book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011)I support readers in releasing regrets and reaching their lifelong yearnings. Going after my own dream, I completed my first novel and am stumbling through the second. Website: www.trustyourlifenow.com

Why the Prejudices! by Jean Ann Owens

A face that can’t see
A face that is covered
An eye that is blind
What kind of person
I am
What color do you think
I am
Or does it matter
Take your cover off
Do you see me as a person
Or a color
Or does it matter
Are you going to leave me
Now
Because
I am a different race
Or stay with me
Because
I am
A person
Just like you
Will you think you are better
Than me
Or do you think
I should be better
Than you
Or do you think
It doesn’t make
Any difference at all

..

Jean Ann Owens provides a free copy of Do You Know Me. Go to, http://www.thesquawkback.com/2016/05/owens.html Feel free to browse at queenjeanann.com

Victims, by Robyn Brann

She’s just eight years old
Buying her mothers fill
Because it keeps her calm
When she takes the pretty pill

He’s just four years old
He’s done nothing wrong
But his daddy has got to prove
He’s still strong

She doesn’t stand a chance
Stuck in the I.C.U
Her mother was on drugs
Nothing more they can do

She hears his footsteps
Coming down the hall
She feels so scared
Presses her back to the wall

He’s kind and gentle
For her it’s never enough
But he doesn’t want to hurt her
Even when she gets rough

At school she hides the bruises
But it never ends
Every night they beat her
Because her existence offends

He cuts his wrists
Every night
He can’t cope anymore
He doesn’t want to fight

Drugs are the only way
To dull the pain
He hates the memories
Replaying over and over again

They buried her today
She took her own life
But it was those girls from school
Who really held the knife

She rubs her skin red raw
Trying to get clean
But she feels she hasn’t been for a while
Not since she was thirteen

He already knows
He can’t do anything right
His mum hates his existence
He’s got no strength left to fight

Covers the newest bruise
Tells her kids it was a mistake
They don’t know tomorrow
Mummy won’t wake

She makes him feel
Like a waste of space
Calls him stupid, ugly, useless
To her he’s just a disgrace

She won’t go out alone
In case it happens again
She can’t even leave the house
It only happened down the lane

They sit alone at school
They’ve got no friends
The bullying, hate and abuse
Simply never ends

We are the victims of our love
We are the victims of our trust
We are the victims of your hate
We are the victims of your lust

Two poems by Ananya S Guha

1
A crutch
I hold on
to
a swivel of hope
in
tantalising wind
the flesh summons
and the wind blows
into
skies as luminous
lights spread into
eerie silence.
2
Umbrellas are painted
sticks to ward off
evil and rains
also the encroaching
heat as a stick
is a rejoinder
to what is happening
in sun and sky.

Two poems by Tristan Moss

Voting for Change

It started with knife attacks
and vans being driven into pedestrians,
then a tower block burnt down
and they claimed responsibility for all.
And it went on, pile-ups on motorways;
leaking radioactivity;
elections sabotaged;
reduced healthcare for the obese;
the fox hunting ban repealed;
tax hikes; the gap
between rich and poor
widening; railways
not being nationalised; no platform-
ing at universities; … until
whose hands we were in
was difficult to say: the terrorists
happy to take responsibility
for anything which some
perceived as bad; or a government
happy to avoid being blamed.

Eventually, the terrorists formed a party
and were elected to rule.

 

The Sinking Island

They said our island was sinking
due to the ever increasing
number of people
and that the ancient towns of our coasts
were disappearing into the sea,
and that we needed to move inshore,
and that they were moving all the lighthouses
5 miles inland. Again and again they said
and did this, until one huge lighthouse
turned three-sixty.

..

Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has recently had poems published in The Poetry ShedAntiphonInk Sweat & TearsSnakeskinAmaryllisLighten Up Online, Picaroon Poetry and Algebra of Owls. 

Four poems by George Hopewell

The Sims.  It was our love of sausage dogs and black leather      

super-sized breakfasts brought us together.
FYI – I weigh in at thirty, too fat to be flirty
she too carries full flesh contrary to Barbie
we walk Saucisson & Chorizo at night
dodge the derision of the Sims people’s spite.

We write in the dark to avoid their mockery
MA Creative Writing?  No, we sprinkle cheese in a factory
burp words like turducken, don’t hide behind low-calorie
we are full-flavour, plump, fleshy and masterly
our T-shirts sweat big buckets of vocabulary.

Our bard bugles paid for our house and muddy drive
we gorge succulent sausages dripping fat and life
so we piss on the simulants who starve to stay alive
with their white-wall flats and anaemic thighs
pretentiously pausing between words     *to/survive.

We cook mountains of poetry, pile our plates high
pages tasting of wit, landscape, colour and life
how we pity the poet posing with one word per line
advertising herself on her internet shrine
copycat poems petrified of the capital i.

We write full-fat, deep-fried, wringing with molasses
words drunk with colour on a thousand drunken canvasses
we grab pots of life, splashing, laughing and farting
spill food on paintings, twisting, rolling, disembowelling
paint from planets of which the Sims know nothing.

We laugh as they walk their dry bones on leads
words split with microtomes on pages of conceit
magazines of meaningless monotony, anorexic lines
blank sheets of their one-leaf salad-choked lives
each poem a pick-n-mix of their flat white lies.

..

Hoarders      

Welcome to Buckingham’s bargain-basement, have a delve
we’ve stacks of shiny salvers on our silver-service shelves
piles of posh pots dipso-diplomats donated to one’s self
juggernaut jewels, bent ivory, wide-eyed animal pelts
God knows what’s at the back of these cavernous caves
a heap of forgotten stuff that’s no longer the rage.

Welcome to Windsor’s whisky-wrecked wings
this is where we keep a skip-load of shiny things
gallows gold, crapulent crowns, a room of ruby rings
a cellar of dodgy booze Johnny Foreigner brings
Château Lafite, Dom Pérignon, fancy flasks of gin
a pile of prezzies we need to sort through and sling.

Welcome to Sandringham’s cigar-smoked cellars
here our paintings lie deep in sedimentary layers
Leonardos, Picassos, Stubbs, unwanted Vermeers
it’s become a humongous pileup over the years
a crush of canvas crusted in crap and spiders’ nests
we should take it to the dump with all the rest.

Welcome to the Kensington kleptomaniac keep
here we store a shitload of books we never read
can’t flog em, can’t give em away, dross we don’t need
candelabras, intaglios, Fabergé eggs you can’t even eat
mounds of muck that’s built up and will never rot
a ton of stuff we don’t even know we’ve got.

Welcome to the Balmoral Bacchanalian ballroom
there’s so much paraphernalia strewn here in the gloom
I’ve never been down those crypts but I’m assured
it’s where the best gear, the good shit, is sorted and stored
it’s lain there for centuries, worm-eaten and ignored
old Brueghel’s, Monet’s, rusted maces and swords.

Welcome to Holyrood’s halberdier warehousing
here there’s a shedload of furs that need delousing
old Canovas, Sèvres, chipped Chelsea and things
you should see all the clobber crammed into the wings
junk we ought to take to the boot sale to tout
fill the Roller with jumble, have a good clear-out.

Hoarders?  Well, come to our cosy private quarters
a modest room where we hide from reporters
here we eruct, watch The Crown, make cheese on toast
heat Heinz beans and spaghetti, eat our Sunday roast.
No, we’re not hoarders, magpies or squirrels in our dreys
it’s not one’s fault there’s just too much stuff nowadays.

..
Cover-up

They have scraped the skin off the earth
slumbering seeds, weeds, dandelion turf
all flora and fauna, the whole tree of life
leatherjacket, worm, millipede, woodlice
a merciless mechanical mass extinction
a permanent maintenance-free solution

to compact, cover-up with hard-core
scalpings pounded into the outdoor floor
all is horizontal, perpendicular, a despot designer
a cement showroom for the garden hardliner
slabs stolen from a Yorkshire quarry at dawn
a factory-farmed checkerboard neon lawn.

She has scraped the soul off her face
freckles, pimples, pores, all will be replaced
the topsoil of the skin, all must be peeled
any wrinkle, pucker, blemish – filled, concealed
a chemical methodical mass extinction
a never-lasting high-maintenance solution.

..

He      

Someone

tailors his ties, valets his yacht
chauffeurs his cars, purloins his pot
reserves his restaurants, taxis his jets
smooths his sheets, cheques his assets
kits out his kitchens, Botoxes his skin
massages his back, shaves his chin
manicures his mail, warms his featherbed
sorts out his socials, sweet-talks his head
bids for his art, decorates his house
steams his shirts, shoots his grouse
harvests his grapes, chefs his food
diagnoses his disposition, medicates his mood
weeds his lawns, rakes his gravel drive
MRIs him annually to keep him alive.

He

does nothing himself, never lifts a hand
he is a self-made modern selfie man
never roughed his palms doing anything at all
cerebrating himself, he jumps off the wall.

..

George Hopewell trained in philosophy, learnt his craft as a writer copywriting in advertising and publishing, then relearnt all his philosophy by teaching it to people a lot smarter than him.  His writing has been represented in various magazines and competitions and his novels inhabit the badlands of the internet.  He lives and breathes in the West Country.

Abracadabra, by Rose Anderson

The Doctor Who Couldn’t Be Wrong
steps into the limelight
with a flash of his silver coat.
From a battered old hat
he produces a bunch of flowers,
enjoys the applause.
He takes his hobby seriously.
The audience has fallen for
his wounded-puppy-dog eyes.

The Doctor Who Couldn’t Be Wrong –
yet made the same mistake for years –
has found his true vocation.
His hands are quicksilver,
shuffling cards and concepts;
his words dart here and there,
tricky as eels.
The audience laughs, blind to the pain
beyond his smoke and mirrors.

While patients’ misery increased
his confidence did likewise.
Now, with a snap of his fingers,
he makes them invisible.
A doctor too eminent to fail.
You can saw his reputation in half,
but look! – it’s still alive,
waving and smiling,
impossible to kill.

..

Rose Anderson lives in Leeds with her husband Phil, their cat Cal and a rubber octopus called Dave.

A Question One Might Ask, by Gil Hoy

My mother tells me,
Although I can’t remember
any of it

That when I was in the second grade
My best friend who lived
Down the street

Got to arguing with me,
A few weeks after Easter

About whether it was he or I
Who believed in Jesus Christ.

To resolve the matter,
My best friend thought he would
Check with the highest authority
Then available to a second grader:

“Mrs. Hoy, Mrs. Hoy,” he said.
“I believe in Jesus Christ—
not Gilbert—right?”

To which my mother
Paused for a bit

And then said to my best friend
Who lived down the street:
“Well, since you are Jewish,
Rodney, you don’t believe
That Jesus was the son of God.

But it is my understanding
That you believe that Jesus
Was a very fine prophet.”

My mother tells me,
Although I can’t remember
any of it

That my best friend
Who lived down the street
Then burst into tears.

My response, I am told,
Because I can’t remember
any of it

Was to say: “I’m really worried
Right now that my teacher is going
To smack my hand with a ruler–
In front of the whole class–

If I don’t get my homework done.
And what difference does
Any of this make anyway?”

Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared most recently in Chiron Review, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, TheNewVerse.News, I am not a silent poet, The Potomac, Clark Street Review, the penmen review, and elsewhere.

In the bread-bin, by Mandy Macdonald

I found some hot cross buns,
almost three years past
their sell-by date.
Greying, solid, stodgy,
made to a recipe created
in 1940, or possibly earlier.

Their lightness is all gone,
their golden softness.
Yet they survive,
for they are vacuum-packed,
tightly insulated
from all outside influences.
I wonder whether
they packed themselves.

But put your ear, your nose
to the packet. Can you detect
a yeasty whisper, a leak of conspiracy,
an odour of pseudo-sanctity?
If i just pierce the clingfilm wrapping
– like this –
the sour-sweet efflatus hits you
like decades-old resentment.
In there, the winey, bog-brown fruit
is fermenting.

Poet Laureate, by Antony Owen

I do not accept your bulldogs leash around my neck 
I am the son of a toolmaker and know this trade
take that sword and keep it from my shoulder
I am the head of state you want to cut off,
my tongue of wet fire is mine alone,
letters lathed from a world I read –
your unhappy endings of empire.
Take those jewels Elizabeth
put them in the eyes of a
colonial slave boy and
wait like the vulture
on Athena posters
hanging like poets
with poems that
burn like heretics
fireflies of light
poems you can
never, ever
understand
my poor
poor
Ma’am.
Take your stolen sword and jewels from India’s heart,
tame a poet of skin not white to be anthems slave.
I am with Zephaniah and I have skin like nylon
It creases with daily pressures of life Ma’am
ages like Grenfell unseen and listen, hush
my tenements are my ancestors subdued that
lived in Stoke brick tombs war took away
and welsh-cold houses hugging a bay,
a bay where Longshanks came
burning a part of the cross
leaving stone emblems
on hills and heaths.
Oh, conquerors of
Kings and Queens
I am not your
laureate and
you are
not my
Master.

The Question of Consent, by Angi Holden

As she shivers in the interview room,
images of his attack still assaulting her senses;
as she sips the tea, too hot and sweet
but standard issue for victims of rape;
as she hides her bruised limbs
in borrowed clothing that doesn’t fit;
as she waits for family and friends
to arrive, to tell her she is safe now;
just then she is given a form to sign.
,,
Permission to access all records and data,
pertinent to the case or otherwise,
is required to enable investigation.
Consent to a mobile strip-search,
to facilitate enquiries.
,,
,,
Angi Holden is a writer and Creative Writing lecturer, whose published work includes poetry, short stories and flash fictions. Her story Painting Stones for Virginia was a runner-up in the 2018 Cheshire Prize for Literature. Her poetry pamphlet Spools of Thread, won the inaugural Mothers Milk Books Pamphlet Prize.